China – (warsoor) – The death toll of the coronavirus has risen to 170 and the illness has spread to every single region in mainland China.
Of the latest fatalities, 37 were in the epicentre of the outbreak in Hubei province and one in the south-western province of Sichuan.
Infections have been reported in at least 15 other countries and, with the appearance of the first case in Tibet, in every province of mainland China.
The new, deadly virus has also now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee is set to reconvene behind closed doors in Geneva later on Thursday.
They will decide whether the rapid spread of the virus now constitutes a global emergency.
It comes as Britons stranded in Hubei face a longer wait to return home as officials have not yet granted permission for their chartered flight to depart.
Some 7,711 cases of the virus have so far been recorded.
To date, about 99 per cent of the cases are in China.
Scientists say there are many questions to be answered about the new virus, including just how easily it spreads and how severe it is.
In a report published Wednesday, Chinese researchers suggested that person-to-person spread among close contacts occurred as early as mid-December.
A planned flight to bring UK nationals back home UK from Wuhan, where the deadly illness first broke out, on Thursday is feared to have been delayed.
The British government had aimed to fly around 200 British citizens out of the country but it is understood Chinese officials have not yet granted permission for the chartered flight to take off.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said a number of flights have been unable to depart “as planned” but that transport would be available “as soon as possible”.